Reflections On The Revolution In Europe

Mark Mazower

May 4 2009 05:43

Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West
Christopher Caldwell

Between 1850 and 1930 more than 50m emigrants left Europe in what was
easily the most intensive movement of peoples ever recorded – another
50m left China in the same period. After a pause for the depression
and the second world war, the outflow continued before being reversed
from the mid-1950s as a buoyant Europe sucked in workers. Today,
there are roughly 15m migrants among the 370m inhabitants of the 15
west European members of the European Union and far more descendants
of earlier immigrants as well.

Such figures never speak for themselves and what they signify depends
on whom you ask. Sober-minded demographers (there are a few) point
out that Europe’s foreign-born population is probably no higher as a
proportion of the total than it was in the early 20th century while
the immigrant inflow that took place in the late 1980s and early
1990s appears to have slowed down.

But who wants to read sober-minded scholars? As EU population growth
grinds to a halt, the continent is still over-represented in global
terms as a destination for migrants, many of whom, unlike in the past,
come from Africa, the Middle East and Asia. And a lot of them are20
Muslims. The prospect of demographic apocalypse has always attracted
Cassandras; about the only subject that is scarier is Islam. Put the
two together, especially after 9/11, and you have a combustible mix.

Caldwell is an American journalist, an editor at The Weekly
Standard and a columnist for this newspaper. He knows the banlieues
and has talked to more than his fair share of extremists of all
persuasions. But Reflections on the Revolution in Europe provides
less an analysis than a call to arms to a continent supposedly already
capitulating to the new enemy in its midst.

His argument, baldly put, is that Enoch Powell was more right than

Europe is in decline from an "adversary culture", and Muslim
immigration, in particular, poses a mortal threat. He fails, however,
to deliver the Burkean tour de force implied by his title.

Throwing off the shackles of political correctness, he plays fast
and loose with the data and switches between talk of immigrants,
Muslims and "non-natives" as it serves his argument. Europeans, he
alleges, are fleeing abroad out of fear of Islam. But the best case
of "white flight" he can find is of emigrating Jews and even this
is unpersuasive since the number of those leaving for this reason is
small and almost certainly exceeded by the reverse flow from Israel
and elsewhere. Oddly, Caldwell unselfconsciously invokes the Jews as
indigenous Eur opeans when just two generations ago they were regarded
much as he regards Muslims.

Does Islam threaten European traditions of free speech? It is not fear
of offending Muslim sensibilities that lies behind recent unprecedented
efforts to criminalise scholarly interpretation. As Caldwell admits,
Holocaust denial and debates about slavery, the legacy of empire and
the Armenian genocide have been far more important catalysts for
European legislators than anything to do with Islam. By contrast,
the efforts he mentions by anti-racist or Muslim groups to get
expressions of prejudice prosecuted have generally ended in judicial
or legislative failure.

Nietzsche’s observation that all philosophy is disguised psychology is
useful to bear in mind when seeking to understand why commentators
such as Caldwell talk about Europe in such alarmist tones. They
would say they have to because Europeans have been cowed into
submission. Caldwell’s fast-breeding, over-sexualised immigrants
have already established what he calls "beachheads" – the idea that
the immigrants are the vanguard of a larger invading force – and
engineered a reverse "colonisation" of historic cities abandoned by
their native inhabitants. Muslim immigration, apparently nothing less
than a "project to seize territory", is well on the way to bringing
Europe within the House of Islam. But this sinister fantasy has less
to do with reali ty than with neo-conservative anxieties about the
decline of the west.

As a concept the idea of the west has always had its expansively
confident side. Yet for decades it also conveyed the fear of its own
cultural and racial demise, a fear reflecting Europe’s massively
weakened position in the world after 1945 and uncertainty whether
the US possessed the self-confidence and political will to step in
and take over.

The collapse of the USSR made people wonder what would happen with
no shared enemy to keep the transatlantic partnership of the west
intact. Then came 9/11 and the sharp divisions over Iraq and the war
on terror that split the western alliance in its aftermath. One could
trace these divisions back to profound disagreements that emerged
between Europeans and Americans about the nature of international
institutions, the rule of law and the path to peace in the Middle
East. Preferring moral and cultural explanations to political ones,
however, neo-cons attribute European dissension to a softening of
the continent’s moral fibre, to burgeoning anti-Americanism and,
as the ultimate cause of both, to the growing importance of Islam on
the continent.

Of course in many ways, Islam ought to attract them – for at least in
the stereotypical version presented here, Muslims believe in family,
in honour, in fighting for one’s beliefs. Above all, they are united.

Caldwell insists that talk of Is lam’s diversity is beside the
point. Behind the critique, one therefore detects a profound
ambivalence: for all their primitivism, Muslims are, in fact, almost
what Europeans should aspire to be. The truth, of course, is that
generalities of this kind are not much use either in understanding
Islam or in finding answers to complex social problems.

No question about it: immigration is one of the key issues facing
contemporary Europe. But if you want a good guide to the debate, this
is not your book: it is too unhinged, too doggedly provocative, for
that. Yet the cultural historian of the future may find it valuable
nonetheless, for it reveals the beleaguered cast of mind commonplace
among some Americans at the moment when the waning of Washington’s
power became evident and a new epoch in world history opened up.

Mark Mazower is professor of history at Columbia University. His
‘Hitler’s Empire: Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe’ (Allen Lane) won the
LA Times Book Prize for History

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

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Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS